Worldview: The Rambling Road: Time calculus

There was a time when I was that person who claimed I didn’t have time to exercise. To me then, exercise was a waste because the other things I was doing with my life seemed far more important. In fact, I was that person not all that long ago. But today, as I was walking, I came to a sudden epiphany that my view was myopic in a specific sort of way.

The fact is, for the year and a half before I ended up in the hospital, my health was deteriorating whether I was willing to admit it or not. I lost some or all of many days to illness and fatigue to the point I was no longer able to do the things I needed and wanted to be doing.

If we imagine that state resulting in a loss of four hours of productivity a day as an average, I lost something along the lines of 2,190 hours of useful time due to bad health. And that was before I ended up in the hospital.

In that hospital, I lost six full days, an additional 144 hours, and since I have been home, my productivity has been minimal to the tune of a couple of hours a day, meaning for the last 30, I’ve easily lost 240 more hours beyond that.

In total, since the true beginnings of this current episode, I’ve easily lost as many as 2,574 hours of productive time, and that’s probably a conservative estimate.

In contrast, since I have returned to walking again, I’ve spent about an hour each day. If I were to simply stick to that amount of time, it would take me more than seven years to “waste” the time I’ve already wasted walking.

And, as anyone exercising knows, fitness is not a waste. Rather, since I have returned to walking, I am getting stronger, my head is clearer, I am less fatigued, and I am more certain of my recovery than I have yet been.

So, even when I reach my eventual goal of two hours of exercise a day, I will really be gaining hours more of productive time rescued from what once had been the time waste of my poor health.

I get the logical explanation isn’t for everyone, but the nature of this realization makes me even more eager to continue. I will improve because of what I am doing, and that can never be a waste.

DLH

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Worldview: The Rambling Road: Plans of attack

Philosophizing is all well and good, but at some point, transformation is about actually doing a thing.

In this case, the first order of business is for me to get moving, and for me getting moving means walking. As things currently stand, I’m struggling to get to the end of my driveway (.3 miles, almost exactly) and back before I’m ready for a nap. That said, it’s a start.

But, it’s only a start. As I mentioned when I started this blog, I am a rambler, and rambling is a state that I want to return to. I’m not sure what kind of times or distances that means just yet, and I’ve yet to consider what kind of payloads I might add along the way (I’m fascinated by the idea of “rucking” for a variety of reasons), but I know that I want to be able to walk further and faster not only than I can now, but than I have been able to in a really long time.

I know some will ask where the muscle-building aspect of this plan might be, and I will be honest when I say I’m not sure where that might fit in with what I am thinking right now. I’m not dismissing the need, but rather, I’ve always had a certain aversion to traditional weight training, so I have to yet find what works for me.

This plan will take on more flesh as time goes on, and I plan to update it regularly with my progress, successes, inevitable failures, and updates.

DLH

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Worldview: Random thoughts from a wandering mind: The scale of talent to skill

Most of us find ourselves in awe of those videos of a little kid, maybe just five years old, who can sit down at a piano and pound out a Mozart sonata like he was born with the instrument in his hands. We marvel at such raw talent, and some of us might even feel a little jealous we don’t have it.

And sure, while most of us weren’t playing Mozart when we were five, the fact remains that most of us, given enough desire, determination, and practice, could learn to play that sonata at some point. While we may not have the talent, we do have the capacity to learn the skill.

I pick the musical example on purpose because it represents a category of endeavor where so many of us marvel at the notion of natural talent while ignoring the possibility of finely crafted skill. We tend to see undertakings like music and art and many skilled crafts as the purview of talented artisans even when we are otherwise interested in them.

While talent can give someone a head start in such endeavors, I posit that it is the development of skill that gives anyone, talented or otherwise, the tools to succeed. To me, talent is a starting point on a line defined by skill. Talented people start with natural skill.

Why is that important? Because, I believe, anything can be learned by anyone, as I mentioned earlier, given enough desire, determination, and practice. Yes, those three things may be lacking, and as a result, a skill may not be successfully honed, but that does not mean it cannot be.

So, the next time you marvel and someone else’s talent and wonder if you could ever do that, try. Find out. If you really want to, you might surprise yourself.

DLH

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Worldview: Philosophy: On transitions, even arbitrary ones

Over the past several years, society has developed a tradition of bashing many of our celebrated transitions as “arbitrary” and therefore lacking in value. Of all the transitions that take a beating, New Years and its attendant retrospection and resolution takes the worst beating. I blame the rise of literalism, but that is probably a discussion for another time.

What these arbitrariness claims ignore is the deep seated need we humans have for such transitions. Our history shows that such things have nearly always been a part of our culture, and I suspect that presence is a function of need.

From my point of view, we have a need to break the passage of time into smaller pieces and to be reminded that we have a lot more control over our circumstances than we sometimes imagine. We also need to be reminded that time passes and that dwelling on circumstances outside our control serves little purpose.

So, while the passing of our calendar from one year to the next may be arbitrary in some respects, the weight we put on such transitions is not arbitrary at all. We celebrate that passage because we need to, and we would do well to be conscious of why and embrace what comes from it.

DLH

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Farming: Manure

This morning, I heard an astounding advertisement from an “organic” garden supply company that claimed that manure was bad for you and your garden.

Now, to many people, their logic would sound solid. According to the ad, manure based gardening soils are low energy and stink, and if you’ve ever purchased such soils from a garden center or home improvement store, in a lot of ways, they’re right.

That’s because they’re doing it wrong.

Manure is, in fact, a significant part of the way nature produces soil, as is polyculture and a sufficient amount of time. Natural–and I use that term to distinguish from “organic”–soil production starts when the animals producing the manure eat food natural to them and then that manure is deposited on a sufficient base of cellulose (in nature, thatched prairie or forest floor debris form that base, while in food production, straw or wood chips are often the choice). Once deposited, a whole host of creatures break down the manure into its constituent parts along with the action of the wind, sun, and rain.

On our farm, the manure we collect in quantity over the winter because the animals tend to congregate where we feed hay has usually completely transitioned to what most people would call dirt–that is, without the smell associated with most store-bought garden soils–by the following fall. We regularly use that dirt in our gardens and planters to great success.

Of course, our method does not even address another failing of the no-manure claim. Even if they are producing soil solely from vegetable matter, if the process is really organic, what do they call the leavings of the insects and microbes they then call soil? Sure, it’s not cow manure, but waste products are waste products even if they’re useful to us.

DLH

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